Who Are the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes?
LeBron James. Tiger Woods. Aaron Rodgers. They are three of the most successful athletes in the world and are paid well for their high-level performance. While they may be well paid, those three don’t even crack the top five for the world’s highest-paid athletes. Here’s the list.
5. Roger Federer — $93.4 million
Roger Federer is undeniably the GOAT in tennis with a record-setting 20 career Grand Slam titles to his credit. Remarkably, at 38 years old, Federer is still the no. 4-ranked men’s player in the world and competing at the highest level.
Federer ranks in the top five for world’s highest-paid athletes but earns the smallest amount for his performance at $7.4 million per year. Conversely, Federer ranks No. 1 in endorsements where he earns the remaining $86 million promoting a variety of products including Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz, and Rolex.
4. Canelo Alvarez — $94 million
Boxer Canelo Alvarez has been one of the world’s top boxers for the last 12 years and is a three-division world champion. Alvarez has held numerous world titles since 2018, including the unified WBA (Super), WBC, The Ring, and lineal middleweight titles. He is considered by multiple associations to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
The 29-year-old Mexican boxer’s annual earnings are low on the endorsement side at $2 million and extremely high on the winnings side. In 2018, streaming service DAZN committed $365 million to Alvarez for his next 11 fights because he is such a huge draw on pay-per-view. His previous two fights versus Gennady “GGG” Golovkin were the first U.S. boxing matches to register more than one million PPV buys since 2002 that didn’t involve Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao.
3. Neymar — $105 million
Neymar is a top soccer player who plays for Paris Saint-Germain. He joined the French club in 2017-18 where he has been a top goal scorer since his arrival. Prior to his move, Neymar starred at Barcelona, where he was a top player along with Lionel Messi. For the last decade, Neymar has also been a star for the Brazilian national team and scored the game-winning goal to earn Brazil the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.
The 27-year-old Neymar is on a contract with PSG through June 2022 that pays him $75 million per year. He makes another $30 million annually in endorsements for companies including Nike, Panasonic, and Volkswagen.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo — $109 million
After nine years with Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus in 2018. The 34-year-old Ronaldo led Serie A in scoring in 2018-19 with 21 goals and had already matched his previous season’s total in 2019-20 when play was suspended due to the pandemic. Ronaldo has won FIFA’s Player of the Year five times and is the all-time leading goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League.
With Juventus, Ronaldo signed a four-year deal worth $65 million annually. In addition to his salary, he brings in $44 million in product endorsements for companies including Herbalife, TAG Heuer, and Nike, which he signed a lifetime deal with in 2016 worth $1 billion.
1. Lionel Messi — $127 million
Lionel Messi is synonymous with Barcelona FC. He made his debut in 2003 and has played in 687 matches, scored 603 goals, and won 33 club titles, including 10 La Liga titles. Like Ronaldo, Messi has been named FIFA’s Player of the Year five times. He has also won the European Golden Shoe for top scorer on the continent a record six times.
Messi’s current contract with the Spanish club runs through 2020-21 and pays him over $92 million annually. He has a lifelong deal with Adidas and also promotes Pepsi, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gatorade. Overall, he earns $35 million in product endorsements and combined with his salary is the world’s highest-paid athlete.
All figures courtesy of Forbes.